Nick Gillespie warned last week that Ohio’s absentee and provisional ballot system is likely to gum up the election results. In short, Ohio residents who request an absentee ballot, change their mind and decide to vote at the polls the old fashioned way will be required to fill out provisional ballots instead. By state law, provisional ballots can’t be counted until Nov. 17.

Today, The Washington Post reports on the legal mess being caused by the way Ohio is counting the provisional ballots, beyond even the delays:

Voting rights advocates contend that a new directive issued Friday evening by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted improperly places the burden on voters — rather than poll workers — for accurately recording the form of identification on provisional ballots.

Husted ordered the state’s 88 county elections boards to reject provisional ballots when the identification portion is incomplete. This appears to be in conflict with a consent decree reached last month between the state and voting rights groups that said provisional ballots with incomplete identification information should be counted.

A group of unions and voting rights groups went to federal court Thursday asking that the state be made to reaffirm that commitment. A day later, Husted released his directive. The state is expected to respond before the end of Monday, but a decision may not come until after the election. Election boards have 10 days after the election to evaluate the eligibility of provisional ballots and decide whether to count them.

The final tracking poll by the University of Cincinnati has the race too close to call in Ohio with President Barack Obama barely ahead. A different poll, though, by NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist gives Obama a six-point lead in the state.

The Post also goes into detail about early voting squabbles and issues in Florida over the weekend as well. It’s clear that the closer the vote is Tuesday, the further we’ll be from actually knowing the outcome.